Introduction to New Testament History and Literature - Video
By Dale B. Martin
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(RLST 152) This course provides a historical study of the origins of Christianity by analyzing the literature of the earliest Christian movements in historical context, concentrating on the New Testament. Although theological themes will occupy much of our attention, the course does not attempt a theological appropriation of the New Testament as scripture. Rather, the importance of the New Testament and other early Christian documents as ancient literature and as sources for historical study will be emphasized. A central organizing theme of the course will focus on the differences within early Christianity (-ies). This course was recorded in Spring 2009.
|1||Video01 - Introduction: Why Study the New Testament?||This course approaches the New Testament not as scripture, or a piece of authoritative holy writing, but as a collection of historical documents. Therefore, students are urged to leave behind their pre-conceived notions of the New Testament and read ...||10/27/2009||Free||View in iTunes|
|2||Video02 - From Stories to Canon||The Christian faith is based upon a canon of texts considered to be holy scripture. How did this canon come to be? Different factors, such as competing schools of doctrine, growing consensus, and the invention of the codex, helped shape the canon ...||10/27/2009||Free||View in iTunes|
|3||Video03 - The Greco-Roman World||Knowledge of historical context is crucial to understanding the New Testament. Alexander the Great, in his conquests, spread Greek culture throughout the Mediterranean world. This would shape the structure of city-states, which would share ...||10/27/2009||Free||View in iTunes|
|4||Video04 - Judaism in the First Century||Of the four kingdoms that arose after Alexander's death, those of the Seleucids and the Ptolemies are most pertinent to an understanding of the New Testament. Especially important is the rule of Antiochus IV Epiphanes, who forced the issue of ...||10/27/2009||Free||View in iTunes|
|5||Video05 - The New Testament as History||The accounts of Paul's travels in The Acts of the Apostles and Galatians seem to contradict each other at many points. Their descriptions of a meeting in Jerusalem--a major council in Acts versus a small, informal gathering in Galatians--also differ ...||10/27/2009||Free||View in iTunes|
|6||Video06 - The Gospel of Mark||The Gospels of the New Testament are not biographies, and, in this class, we will be reading them through a historical critical lens. This means that the events they narrate are not taken at face value as historical. The Gospel of Mark illustrates how ...||10/27/2009||Free||View in iTunes|
|7||Video07 - The Gospel of Matthew||The Gospel of Matthew contains some of the most famous passages that both Christians and non-Christians are familiar with. However, Matthew also presents itself paradoxically as preaching a Torah observant Christianity and a Christian mission that ...||10/27/2009||Free||View in iTunes|
|8||Video08 - The Gospel of Thomas||We've known of the existence of the Gospel of Thomas from ancient writers, but it was only after the discovery of the Nag Hammadi Codices that the actual text was available to us. The Gospel of Thomas is basically a collection of sayings, or logia, ...||10/27/2009||Free||View in iTunes|
|9||Video09 - The Gospel of Luke||Luke and Acts, a two-volume work, are structured very carefully by the author to outline the ministry of Jesus and the spread of the gospel to the Gentiles. The Gospel of Luke emphasizes the themes of Jesus' Jewish piety, his role as a rejected prophet...||10/27/2009||Free||View in iTunes|
|10||Video10 - The Acts of the Apostles||The speech that Stephen gives before his accusers in Acts shows how the author of Luke-Acts used and edited his sources. So, also, does the description of the destruction of Jerusalem in Luke, as compared to that in Mark. The major themes of Luke-Acts ...||10/27/2009||Free||View in iTunes|
|11||Video11 - Johannine Christianity: the Gospel||The Gospel of John is a gospel dramatically different from the Synoptic Gospels. It is full of long dialogues, it speaks of "signs" rather than exorcisms or miracles, and its narrative differs at many points from the Synoptics. Themes in the Gospel are...||10/27/2009||Free||View in iTunes|
|12||Video12 - Johannine Christianity: the Letters||The Jesus of the Gospel of John often speaks in riddles so that his dialogues with characters such as Nicodemus appear confusing and not clarifying. The focus, however, of the Gospel of John is on Christology. In the Gospel, Jesus is divine. So it is ...||10/27/2009||Free||View in iTunes|
|13||Video13 - The Historical Jesus||It is obvious that certain narratives in the New Testament contradict each other and cannot be woven into a historically coherent whole. How, then, do scholars construct who the "historical Jesus" was? There are several principles that historical ...||10/27/2009||Free||View in iTunes|
|14||Video14 - Paul as Missionary||The New Testament and other texts provide us with many accounts of the Apostle Paul, some that contradict each other. Throughout the history of Christianity, Paul has assumed many different roles for different people. For the early Christians he was ...||10/27/2009||Free||View in iTunes|
|15||Video15 - Paul as Pastor||1 Corinthian and 2 Corinthians give us several snapshots of the development of the Corinthian church and Paul's relationship to it. In 1 Corinthians Paul is concerned with controversies that have been dividing the church, most probably along social ...||10/27/2009||Free||View in iTunes|
|16||Video16 - Paul as Jewish Theologian||The Apostle Paul's description of the Jewish Law in his letter to the Galatians demotes from being an expression of Jewish faith to an object of idolatry and one that imprisons those who follow it. Paul is careful to nuance this position, however, in ...||10/27/2009||Free||View in iTunes|
|17||Video17 - Paul’s Disciples||In ancient times, documents that were falsely attributed to an author, called pseudepigrapha, were a common phenomenon. Both the Letters to the Colossians and Ephesians are most likely pseudonymous works attributed to the Apostle Paul. The writer of ...||10/27/2009||Free||View in iTunes|
|18||Video18 - Arguing With Paul?||Early Christianity presents us with a wide diversity in attitudes towards the Law. There were also many different Christologies circulating in different communities. The book of James presents one unique perspective. It seems to be written in the ...||10/27/2009||Free||View in iTunes|
|19||Video19 - The ""Household"" Paul: the Pastorals||In the undisputed Pauline epistles, marriage is seen as a way to extirpate sexual desire - neither as a means for procreation nor as the preferred social status. The Pastoral Epistles, written to instruct in the pastoring of churches and appointing of ...||10/27/2009||Free||View in iTunes|
|20||Video20 - The ""Anti-household"" Paul: Thecla||The Acts of Paul and Thecla has a narrative quite similar to those in ancient Greco-Roman novels: Thecla becomes enamored of Paul and they share a number of adventures. However, the Acts redirects eroticism towards a belief in a gospel of purity and ...||10/27/2009||Free||View in iTunes|
|21||Video21 - Interpreting Scripture: Hebrews||There are many ways of interpreting the text, and ancient methods of interpretation may seem bizarre to our modern sensibilities. The New Testament offers us many examples of how an early Christian might interpret the text of the Hebrew Bible, which ...||10/27/2009||Free||View in iTunes|
|22||Video22 - Interpreting Scripture: Medieval Interpretations||The principles of interpreting the New Testament in this course assume a historical critical perspective. The historical critical method of interpreting a text privileges the intended meaning of the ancient author, the interpretation of a text's ...||10/27/2009||Free||View in iTunes|
|23||Video23 - Apocalyptic and Resistance||The Apocalypse, or the Revelation of John, shares many of the traits found in apocalyptic literature: it operates in dualisms--earthly events contrasted with heavenly ones, present time with the imminent future, and it calls for cultural and political ...||10/27/2009||Free||View in iTunes|
|24||Video24 - Apocalyptic and Accommodation||The Apocalypse of John showed an anti-Roman, politically revolutionary perspective. This is in contrast with Paul's writing in Romans 13, which calls for submission to governmental authorities - although passages in 1 Corinthians may be said to ...||10/27/2009||Free||View in iTunes|
|25||Video25 - Ecclesiastical Institutions: Unity, Martyrs, and Bishops||The Epistle of Jude can be dated to somewhere during post-apostolic Christianity and before the formation of the Canon. It refers to the apostles as representing a prior generation, yet it quotes from texts later excluded (perhaps, for example, by...||10/27/2009||Free||View in iTunes|
|26||Video26 - The “Afterlife” of the New Testament; and Postmodern Interpretation||How did a small group following an apocalyptic prophet in Palestine become Christianity - what is now called a "world religion"? This small movement saw many changes in the second, third, and fourth centuries, from the development of different sects...||10/27/2009||Free||View in iTunes|
This was a good course which provided many new insights to me. However, the professor was frequently a snarky with his students about their lack of class participation.
Irresponsible With Scripture
I will admit that I’ve only listed to episode 11, regarding the Johannine Literature. Dr. Martin is very irresponsible with the context and culture of the text, not considering the underlying ethos of the early church. It’s surreal this is a course taught at Yale.
a great overview
Martin covers a great deal of material in a relatively brief time without making you feel like you're missing something. I appreciated his approach that one should be skeptical even of the professor. He doesn't belittle more conservative views while he speaks of his own, which is sometimes hard to come by. I recommend this course to Christians across the spectrum, from liberal to conservative, for its scholarship and approachability and especially for its open challenge to examine your beliefs and opinions.